A Canadian-born entrepreneur recounts how she went to Iran in search of culinary adventure and fell in love.
Klinec was the child of immigrant “striver” parents “for whom money and gain meant everything.” Wealth accumulated through an automotive manufacturing business transformed the love her mother and father had for her and her sister into “benevolent neglect.” Her parents granted Klinec an extraordinary amount of freedom, which, as a teenager, she used to enroll in schools in Switzerland and Ireland and travel all over Europe. While “the sense of motion…thrilled [her],” by the time she was 17, the author also found that she loved cooking. After attending university, she moved to London, where she went to work for an investment banking firm. But the financial security so important to her parents was not enough for her. In her early 30s, she left the corporate world to start her own artisanal foods cooking school, which she ran from her apartment. Fascinated by Middle Eastern culture and food, Klinec decided to go to Iran to find recipes. Less than 24 hours after she arrived in Tehran, a man named Vahid, whose “ ‘hello’ was more of a bark than a greeting,” approached her to practice his English. Vahid introduced Klinec to his mother, and the two women bonded as they prepared food together in the family kitchen. At the same time, the author fell in love with Vahid. Together, they sought out a mullah who would grant them status as “temporary” husband and wife and thus protect them from harsh Islamic laws against adultery. “Our relationship [was] stitched together out of fragments of devotion, strong will and despair,” she writes. Yet in the end, they found belonging—and emotional nourishment—in exile. By turns unsentimental and tender, Klinec’s book offers insight into the delicious world of Persian cuisine as well as the surprising twists and turns of the human heart.
An unexpectedly moving memoir.